This prompt is the second in a series of discussions led by invited speakers at the upcoming 15th National Conference and Global Forum on Science, Policy and the Environment: Energy and Climate Change to be held January 27-29, 2015 in Washington, DC.
Energy and water systems have historically been designed and managed independently. However, the systems are, in fact, interdependent. In its simplest form, the energy-water nexus can be broken into two parts: “energy for water” —the energy required to treat, transport, or heat water—and “water for energy” —the water required for cooling thermoelectric power plants, oil and gas production, hydropower, and bioenergy feedstocks. In the future, the relationship between energy and water systems will evolve, driven by changing energy portfolios and technologies, changing precipitation and temperature patterns, and population growth and migration.
An integrated approach to addressing complex energy-water nexus issues can benefit from technology, policy, data, modeling, and analysis elements. A range of stakeholders can play an important role, including federal/state/tribal/local governments, private industry, NGOs, international organizations, foreign governments, academic institutions, utilities, and citizens.
If the goal is to achieve maximum positive impact at the regional, national, and global scale through an integrated and collaborative approach to the energy-water nexus:
1) What are the key elements that would distinguish such an integrated approach from a traditional approach?
2) How are goals, priorities, and supporting actions best identified and pursued?
3) Who are the key stakeholders, and what are their optimal roles?
• Department of Energy, The Water-Energy Nexus: Challenges and Opportunities, U.S. Department of Energy Water-Energy Tech Team, June 2014.
• Water in the West, Water and Energy Nexus: A Literature Review, Stanford University Woods Institute for the Environment and Stanford University Bill Lane Center for the American West, September 2013.
• World Bank, Thirsty Energy, Washington D.C., January 2013.